Ezekiel 2.1-7, 3.7-9The people Ezekiel is being sent to are described, over and over, as rebels. They are obstinate and stubborn. They are hard-headed. And living among them is like living with thorns and scorpions.
He said to me, “Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you.”
As he spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard him speaking to me.
He said: “Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their ancestors have been in revolt against me to this very day. The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says.’ And whether they listen or fail to listen—for they are a rebellious people—they will know that a prophet has been among them. And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words. Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions. Do not be afraid of what they say or be terrified by them, though they are a rebellious people. You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious..."
"But the people of Israel are not willing to listen to you because they are not willing to listen to me, for all the Israelites are hardened and obstinate. But I will make you as unyielding and hardened as they are. I will make your forehead like the hardest stone, harder than flint. Do not be afraid of them or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious people.”
Hearing these descriptions the inmates perked up. The bible was describing their life.
These men knew what it was like to live with scorpions.
Consequently, they needed to be tough. Like Ezekiel needed to be tough. If the people are stubborn the prophet must be even more stubborn. If the people are hard-headed the prophet's head must be harder still.
"I will make you as unyielding and hardened as they are. I will make your forehead like the hardest stone, harder than flint. Do not be afraid of them."
When you live among scorpions you gotta be tough.
And what about the mission of the prophet? How will the prophet measure success?
In a world where the church is increasingly taken with corporate metrics of growth and success what is the metric of the prophet?
Of course, we always pray for revival. The men in the prison always pray for revival. As they should. But revival isn't what Ezekiel is promised.
Ezekiel is promised an outcome. There is one metric of success to be found in the text above.
Did you notice it?
It's found in 2.4-5:
The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says.’ And whether they listen or fail to listen—for they are a rebellious people—they will know that a prophet has been among them.They may listen. They may not listen. But the one thing they will know is this:
A prophet lived among them.
That's the metric of success. That a people would remember that a prophet had lived among them.
So that's what I told the men out at the prison.
This, I said, is the only thing you can control. That when people look back at their lives they remember your words and life. They remember, perhaps from a long time ago, that they once knew a person who spoke truth to them. In a world full of thorns and scorpions they once knew a child of God. A man or a woman who spoke words of judgment and words of grace.
They remember a prophet once lived among them.